The economy of Thailand depends on tourism. However, ever since Coronavirus struck, the arrival of tourists has plummeted. To revive its economy, Thailand wants to woo back the tourists. It is exploring options, and one of these is to welcome vaccinated visitors, bypassing the requirements of quarantine. The resort island Phuket is center stage, and the plan is to permit the free movement of such tourists on the island. There would be a waiver of self-isolation on arrival. After 14 days, they would get the green light to Travel elsewhere in Thailand.

This “Phuket Sandbox” initiative would take off from Jul 1. It seems the response so far is lukewarm, with hotel bookings yet to pick up. That would hurt its revival strategy. Channel News Asia quotes an official of the Phuket Hotels Association as saying: "This will be a slow process. None of us are expecting a 100 percent occupancy on Jul 2." The delay in finalizing the format is affecting the bookings in hotels. In June, Thailand had announced its plans to reopen Phuket to international tourists from July. Last year, it lost billions of dollars in tourism revenue, and it wants to put those memories aside. Phuket is a favorite destination for tourists and foreigners who travel from distant countries to enjoy what the island offers.

Recovery would not be easy for Thailand

Thai Airways would provide air connectivity between Phuket and many cities in Europe. That would be from July. The airline is aware of the fact that there would be many empty seats in the initial stages. Thailand knows its economy relies on tourism. Tourists help to generate employment, but the new arrivals will not result in immediate relief.

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Channel News Asia says the country lost billions of dollars in tourism revenue last year. There was a drastic drop in foreign arrivals from nearly 40 million in 2019 to about 7 million in 2020. The reasons were global travel curbs due to coronavirus and the tough entry requirements of Thailand to ward off the disease. Most visitors usually make a beeline for Phuket.

In the words of a hotelier: "More than 50 percent of Phuket tourism comes from China. Without that market, it will be difficult."

Airlines are hopeful of Thailand’s revival

Several major airlines are extending support to the reopening plans of Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand TAT says big names are offering direct flights. These include Emirates, El Al, Air France, Qatar Airways, British Airways, and Cathay Pacific. Singapore Airlines would increase the frequency of its flights to Phuket. Channel News Asia mentions the island's hotel association. In its opinion, occupancy would improve gradually to around 30 to 40 percent towards year-end. However, restrictions remain on outbound movement from major markets like China, Japan, and Malaysia.

Along with that, there are the bans imposed by the local health authorities on high-risk countries. Obviously, Thailand has to overcome many hurdles before it can breathe easily.

Loss of foreign tourists and their money hit Thailand hard

According to Sky News, when coronavirus struck, Thailand tightened its border restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. It enforced a strict 14-day hotel quarantine. The result was a loss of foreign tourists and their money. Phuket is an island in Thailand, and its income has tourism links. Its authorities are drawing up plans to restart activities to boost businesses. To do that, they must ensure that 70 percent of its population is vaccinated by July 1.

Phuket is the biggest island in Thailand and the most popular destination outside Bangkok. As the Phuket Tourist Association president says: "So the reopening gives us hope to get back to life once again, and we don't expect a huge demand at the beginning."